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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on February 8, 2003
Well, I think this story is well rounded. It gives us different peeks at all sorts of medieval goings on: Crusades, Universities, Intrigue, Law, Castles, that dumb romance stuff all the feminists are into with Medieval women and Eleanor, etc.
We don't get to deep into much, but I enjoyed it. The story also is woven around a girl whose family is brutally murdered and has to flee, disguised as a boy.
She meets up with an "evil" Scotsman on her own quest and they have all sorts adventures together trying to get her land back.
The story instantly grabs you in the beginning.
Yes, the author does try to use period language. I didn't know half of what she said; nor could I remember my latin to translate. But it didn't really bother me to much.
Also, she threw in a Robin Hood and Maid Marian scene. I thought that that was a bit cheesy, but it was well written for her intent.
The author has great insight into Richards person. I loved it.
There are a few surprises. I was disappointed with the ending---it seemed it stopped abruptly---but that could be because I didn't want it to end! I cannot wait to read the next one!
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The setting covers northern England (the Scottish border), France, Italy, Sicily, Cyprus and the Holy Land (Dominions of Saladin) from 1189 to 1192. Although "Shield of Three Lions" follows a fictional story line it is true to the main events of the Third Crusade by King Richard I (the Lionhearted) of England and King Philip II of France. After her home, Worthwaite Castle has been sacked and her parents killed, the young pre-teen heroine, Alix, escapes from Roland, her cruel adversary, south to London. She hitches a ride with a dour but brave and protective Scot, Enoch, who has in mind to put a claim to half the Wanthwaite estate in exchange for protecting Alix, who now has taken on the identity of a young boy, calling herself Alex. She succeeds in maintaining her male persona for most of the story during which she develops a mostly platonic protective relationship with the bisexual Richard I, serving as one of his pages. Her hope is that the king will issue an edict restoring to her the title to Wanthwaite. Enoch, having enacted a blood-brother ceremony with "Alex," continues his own protective relationship with him (her). As Alix matures it becomes more and more difficult for her to conceal her feminity, especially to Richard and to Enoch. Sexual stirrings serve to induce emotional turmoil. The reader will continue to be engaged with Alix's dilemma until the surprising and emotionally cathartic conclusion.

It is easy to believe that Pamela Kaufman is a learned linguist. The book is peppered with Latin, French, Gaelic and the dialects of the period. Some readers can be put off by the author's insistence on linguistic showmanship. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a chore to decipher the exact meaning of some words and phrases but most readers will overcome the challenge. It does add to the atmosphere. Kaufman's work is outstanding for its authentic portrayal of speech, mindsets, customs and historical accuracy of this eventful time period. Some may be disenchanted by its earthy bawdiness--also reflective of the time period. Many have attempted to capture the true character of King Richard and Kaufman has probably succeeded as well as anyone. He was a charmer, a brute, a deceiver, a hero, outwardly courageous yet emotionally vulnerable. Through this book we get to admire Alix for her inventive determination to follow her heart and achieve her rightful claim to her Worthwaite Castle. We also follow the struggles of the love-hate relationships she has for Richard and for Enoch. Fans of medieval historical fiction will enjoy this epic tale written over fifty years ago. It is the first book of a trilogy and I look forward to reading the others.
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on August 29, 2002
I'll admit that historical romance is not usually my genre - I tend to stick to fantasy and science fiction - but this book took me by surprise. Most of what others have said on this page is true. The characters are well developed and believable, the romance is fairly touching, and the book seems to be well-researched, although I'm not an expert on the Middle Ages. However, Kaufman's uneven writing is a huge distraction. She'll write in straightforward, modern English for a few pages, then suddenly plunge into a mess of archaic phrasing and terminology. I don't know why Kaufman thinks it's necessary to use words like "caparisoned" and "vulperets", perhaps she thought that doing so would give the novel an air of authenticity. Unluckily, I don't have time to study Middle English, and the result is that there are many scenes in "Shield of Three Lions" where I simply couldn't understand what was being described. So in summary, it's not a bad read, but consider yourself warned about the language.
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on July 28, 2002
I first read "Shield of Three Lions" years ago and it remains one of the most memorable books I've read in a long career as a voracious reader. The story follows the exploits of a Alix, a girl disguised as a boy, as she follows Richard the Lion Heart on his crusades. Exciting, hilarious, filled with adventure, and often ribald, "Shield" is one book I can heartily--and highly--recommend.
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on September 26, 2010
Pamela Kaufman has attempted to write an alternate version of Joan of Arc. But I found this story far less than inspiring. Packed with corruption, greed, rape and other ever so savoury concepts of human morality, an otherwise innocent teenage girl pretends to be a boy to join the crusades.

I found it overall a fairly unpleasant book. I would not recomend it.
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on July 23, 2002
This book is both absorbing and educational. It rings true, historically and emotionally. It's an equally fabulous read for someone who wants to learn more about medieval history or just some high-quality brain candy.
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on January 4, 2003
I didn't think as much of this book as I did Kaufman's The Book of Eleanor. Alix was an annoying character, her disguise as a boy and "romance" with King Richard contrived.
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on January 20, 2003
This is a plot-driven book that covers a large swathe of time and space in 12th century Europe. The heroine tells the story of her journey from northern England to London and then to Jerusalem with the entourage of Richard I. The action is fast-paced, and the heroine is constantly reacting to a continuous barrage of events. Unfortunately, the author never gives her heroine the opportunity to ponder events, emotions, attitudes, anything. The story is all action-reaction, and although the history and setting are interesting, the novel disappoints because there is nothing soul-nourishing about it. There is no beautiful writing here to savor, and no truly charismatic character to cherish.
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on February 23, 2003
I found the opening scenes with the death of her friend and mother to be horrifying. Throughout the book I found the writing too crude and that really took away from the story itself.
Personally I found it too upsetting and I'm no prude.
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